[ox-en] State of the English list
- From: Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de>
- Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2004 23:03:09 +0100
This is a long mail and I put a lot in it. I'll start with the less
important things and end with the important things.
My opinion about facism
People on- and off-list expressed doubts about by opinion about
facism. I have to say I find this ludicrous and everybody who knows me
as a virtual or non-virtual person will support this every time. But
if you want to read it from my finger tips: I do not advocate facism.
Proof me wrong if you can. And I said *proof* - not just stick a label
on me and then stop thinking.
While I talk about me: I do not like labeling. I think labeling is an
expression of an ideology. That is why I'm at least sceptical about
-isms of any kind.
Also I do not like simple solutions(TM). Simple solutions(TM) are
something populists of all brands love. More often than not the world
is a bit complicated and I love to take this into account. In
particular the whole mess on this list is really a complicated issue
with *lots* of aspects which need consideration.
I prefer reasoning and clarity. This mail attempts to contribute to
My opinion about kicking and banning Johnathan
I outlined the problems I see with with such a step in
which StefanMz(?) posted the link here. I re-read it and as a point of
view of a maintainer of this project I still think this way and I
still think it contains a number of reasonable points.
I'd like to stress that this is a completely different perspective on
the whole problem than some people here have. Oekonux lives from
considering different perspectives - IMO one of the biggest strengths
of this project. This is part of the openness of this project. So if
you are not ready to at least consider this perspective then you are
probably in the wrong project.
If you now think this proves I support fascism then you are of course
free to so so. I do not need to understand it and I'm convinced anyone
with a clear mind won't understand, too.
The point of personal security has been raised several times and
though I wrote about this in the post I just mentioned I will repeat
it again: If you are really concerned about your personal security it
is no good idea to post to *any* Oekonux list with a name which can be
traced back to your non-virtual being. On the other hand kicking and
banning someone from any list is in no way effective for your
If in the past or now you changed your mind about your name in the
archive: For different reasons we had such a case some time ago in the
German part of the project and I developed a technical solution which
since this time filters all the archives. At the moment one name is
obfuscated by this so it can no longer be googled and also phone
numbers are removed because they cause too much problems in public
archives. So if you want your name or mail address removed / changed
in the archives just send a request to
Technically this is not a big thing.
To make it clear: I fully understand your concerns about your security
on an emotional basis. On an rational basis kicking and banning
someone is in no way effective for this.
However, if your concern is that you just don't like to see your mail
address in the same mailing list file with someone you call a Nazi
then there is indeed a problem. Please remember that there is no
consensus on *this* list about banning Johnathan. Well, anyway the
problem with Jonathan has been solved - as long as you stop to call
him - but it was an exceptional case. If we start to to kick out
persons on the basis of we like or disgusted of I can come up with a
list of people I do not feel comfortable with tomorrow.
Ok, enough about me. Let's come to the important points.
English list alienated from the project
Well, Graham is right in
I'm grateful for his post because he opened my eyes to some simple
facts I was not ready to see until this: The English list meanwhile is
alienated to Project Oekonux to a high degree. The most recent posts
to the English list underline this even more.
However, instead of simply accepting it as such, as Graham seems to
do, I draw different conclusions.
Of course [ox-en] *is* a resource of the bigger Project Oekonux. There
is no doubt in that fact.
There are a number of resources in the project. Most important are
[ox] and - until recently - [ox-en]. Also the web sites are resources
of this project and of course the Oekonux Conference which we are very
busy preparing for the third time now.
BTW: We have 50+ proposals for the conference now - far more than for
the first or second. There is a strong Project Oekonux and it is
perceived this way in the outside world or otherwise we would not have
this many interesting proposals. If you ask me this is how it should
be - because we all can be proud of it and also because this is the
way to have political influence. Indeed Oekonux has already **far**
more influence than anything I did before - which was a lot. I guess
this applies to the very most of the members of [ox-en] also and this
alone is a reason why I would be careful to put the axe at the roots
of the project.
All these resources exist for the purpose of the project which - as
you can read it on the web site - still is:
In Project Oekonux different people with different opinions and
different methods study the economic and political forms of Free
Software. An important question is, whether the principles of the
development of Free Software may be the foundation of a new economy
which may be the base for a new society.
*This* is the reason why people enter the project and this is
something I for one will always be ready to defend as good as I can.
This is what *I* want in this project and there are *a lot* of people
which find Oekonux interesting for exactly this.
On the other hand this means none of these resources is free as in
anything-goes. The resources are set up for a certain purpose and some
people are working to make these resources available for their
pleasure and for others to share. If this purpose is at stake I feel
it my duty to do something about it and I think everyone who is really
interested in Oekonux should feel the same.
For instance to the conference only proposals are invited which seem
to be on-topic for Oekonux. Is this something which should be
different? People are working for this and personally I think they
have the right and the duty to decide. In other words (and because
this is really important this gets a line of it's own):
Openness is not the same as anything-goes
This includes that I as a maintainer of the project am bound by this.
Because I see it as a structure helping me to pursue my goals I do not
see this as some sort of oppression or alienated to me but as helping
If you can not accept to apply this to you you are probably in the
The purpose of the project is to learn and to evoke interesting
contributions which further the process of theory building. This is
where openness comes into play as an important tool. Openness and the
absence of ideologies allows for wandering into areas which might be
considered dangerous by the classical left. I find this important
because the classical left has been blocked by dogmas far too long and
I think this is part of the reason for their failure.
Ok, now some people will probably say I support facism - well, if
*that* is your way of "reasoning" then you are *certainly* in the
wrong place here.
As with any purpose humans pursue there needs to be a framework of
rules which make this pursuit possible. In the case of Oekonux this
framework contains for instance on-topicness. Indeed geeks - i.e.
people raised by the Internet - and leftists are used to off-topicness
and sometimes I find it astonishing how much people can bear. However,
for this project I find it *very* important that not only geeks or
leftists are attracted by it. I always support "normal people" to
enter the project and to contribute to it. Normal people, however, are
pissed off by a bad signal-to-noise ratio quickly. Normal people are
not interested in cat-and-dog fights. Well, IMO after all this
probably applies to many geeks and leftists, too.
I already mentioned openness as being part of the framework. Openness
is probably among the most difficult things to maintain. It demands a
lot from people and in the end only a good culture is able to maintain
openness over longer periods. After all this project is now in its
fifth year and until recently there has rarely been a problem with
this. However, a prerequisite for openness is a nice atmosphere. An
atmosphere which encourages people to say what they think. A hostile
and suspicious atmosphere like it is common now on [ox-en] kills
openness more than anything else. I'm convinced that any open project
needs to maintain this atmosphere.
Last but not least today spam filters are a necessary prerequisite.
Fortunately there is rather effective software for this purpose but to
look for false positives is a daily burden (I'm carrying BTW - help is
When I today say that [ox-en] is alienated from Project Oekonux then
this means that this framework of rules has been widened / shifted
during the last months / half year to a degree it became alienated to
the purpose of the project. The atmosphere became hostile,
off-topicness is openly supported, thinking in terms of in-group /
out-group became standard for some people and a general atmosphere of
suspicion is common today.
As a final phenomenon it came to the point that some people here feel
they as a group are no longer part of the project and thus should not
be "goverened" by the infrastructure of the project. Today I consider
this good because it makes clear that there is a clear split. As I
said above: I like clarity.
BTW: This whole process is something *I* think about and something *I*
would like to know how it can be prevented in the future. May be it
can't in all cases if you also try to maintain openness at the same
3 days ago Graham Seaman wrote:
In my opinion the absolutely fundamental problem is that the english list
is not its own master; it is controlled from outside (in terms of policy
by pox, and in terms of practical actions by yourself). The list is not
allowed to make its own decisions as to what is on topic and what is not,
or what the 'membership' policy should be. It is a purely dependent group,
not a natural group with it's own 'telos', to use Adam's terms, and there
is no intention to allow it to develop one.
Yes, Graham is right. However, as I outlined I see the problem in the
alienation process and therefore I draw different conclusions.
You may now say "This is not self-organization any more". Well, I'd
say, it depends on what perspective you take. If you take the
perspective of the whole project - which personally I consider the
duty of the people on [pox] - then it is fully self-organized. If you
think otherwise to me this is only a proof how alienated you are
BTW: The alienation is the reason why I think there is no much point
in discussing all this on [ox-en]. You don't talk to the guy who just
tries to sell you his crap and is in no way interested in you, do you?
Last - but I think it should be mentioned - the German registered
association pays for hosting this whole infrastructure.
Forking solves this problem with an own telos as Graham put it.
Forking is the default solution when things become unsolvable. Well,
the Oekonux domains are not a state and the Internet is wide - a fork
is perfectly possible.
Because some people seemingly are completely unhappy with the project
as it is I as an individual hereby advocate a fork. I think it is the
most healthy solution. Then the [ox-en] can stay what it was for
nearly four years and what it made successful so far. The people which
came here because of that can stay here. On the other hand people
which are no longer happy with the general direction of the project
are free to define their own telos, on-/off-topic policy, whatever in
a forked off project. The quarrel is solved and both projects can
pursue whatever they may find useful.
Well, MartinH offered a "fork" already. As you may have noted I put
"fork" in quotes because I think MartinH and a few others want
something different than Oekonux so it is not really a fork. *This* is
probably the source of the alienation I mentioned above.
Well, if MartinH would not be only a loudmouth with a considerable
destructive potential, if MartinH really had a project to propose he
would have done so weeks if not months ago. However, it's never too
late. Come on, MartinH, set up a mailing list and invite people. Do
everything better than me and people on [pox] and experience how far
you get. I wish you good luck - and do it soon.
When I think about it this way then I'd say: If you like Oekonux is a
"fork" from the Krisis group. This was a very healthy thing and while
- unfortunately - Krisis agonizes more and more Oekonux flourished.
May be this time has come for Oekonux after nearly 5 years. Though I
doubt it when I try to imagine what this new project might be. Perhaps
when MartinH for a moment stops spouting poison into Oekonux he can
tell us what he thinks it could be - and then build up his "fork".
Anyway. Whether MartinH is right or I can be proven only by an
Now for the part which makes me least happy in all this mess.
I expect this "fork" not to happen. In the contrary I expect that
[ox-en] will continue to alienate from the project it is still a part
of and always will be for the reasons outlined above. In the end this
would mean that Project Oekonux gives up a valuable tool which is very
useful for the goals of the project. However, besides the (far bigger)
German list there needs to be an English list so people which do not
speak or understand German can learn from and contribute to the
So the solution for now is moderation of [ox-en]. I'd like to stress
that I'm sad it came this way but at the moment this is the best
solution I see and so far nobody came up with something better - and I
doubt there is a better solution.
Completely in line with what I said above this moderation is a way to
help to make clear what the framework of rules I mentioned above
actually is. This became unclear too much because too much of the
culture of [ox-en] vanished during the past half year. Because of this
there will be a very strict moderation at the start.
Clearly this is a temporary measure and I for one hope the list
functions unmoderated again as soon as possible. I'm saying this also
because this means an additional burden which now during the
conference preparation really nobody needs.
During the weekend I'll install some software which allows a
collective moderation process. Unfortunately the normal tools
majordomo provides are not useful for a collective moderation. I wrote
this software some years ago for a quite similar situation so I think
it will fit nicely. However, I'm not sure how easy the installation
This software also allows for an unmoderated list where all posts sent
to [ox-en] then go to without interception. People who are interested
in this can subscribe to this list. A nice aspect of this unmoderated
list is that this way we can see how many people are *really*
interested in what is moderated away.
I'll come back to the lists which are affected by this decision with
the details and I hope I can do the technical setup as fast as I want
I hereby ask all good-willing people which are interested in Oekonux
to support this action and help to make it unnecessary as soon as
possible. The people who want to have their own telos I ask to setup
their own project and work to make this other project a success.
Mit Freien Grüßen
Organization: projekt oekonux.de